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Ocasio-Cortez Blocks Press Access to Campaign Event

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young New Yorker seeking a seat in Congress, gives a speech August 2 in Los Angeles
GETTY IMAGES/AFP/File MARIO TAMA

Socialist Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has spent the weeks since she won New York’s 14th Congressional District primary in the spotlight around the country stumping for other left-wing candidates and at media appearances, but the last two events in her state have been closed to the press.

The media were not allowed to attend campaign events in the Bronx and Corona, New York, last week, according to the Queens Chronicle.

The newspaper pointed out the Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about her “listening tour” that is “intended for lively, compassionate discourse with a diversity of viewpoints.”

The Chronicle reported said Ocasio and attendees said they “talked about race, immigration, healthcare, disability rights and housing.”

But unless you were in the room on Sunday, you won’t know what specific community problems were mentioned or how Ocasio-Cortez planned to address them once she is sworn in.

That’s because her campaign banned members of the media from attending the event, which was otherwise open to the public.

The newspaper noted that she has become a political star since her victory, getting written up in the New York Times and Rolling Stone and appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

“But when Ocasio-Cortez returned to the district for a Bronx community meeting with prominent healthcare activist Ady Barkan last Tuesday, her campaign manager, Vigie Ramos Rios, later told the Chronicle, she was ‘mobbed’ by reporters, ‘even though we said no Q&A and no one-on-one [interviews].’”

“We wanted to help create a space where community members felt comfortable and open to express themselves without the distraction of cameras and press. These were the first set of events where the press has been excluded,” campaign manager Corbin Trent said in the Chronicle article. “This is an outlier and will not be the norm. We’re still adjusting our logistics to fit Alexandria’s national profile.”

The Chronicle asked Trent if it was hypocritical for Ocasio-Cortez to make splashy national appearances but to block local media from covering local events.

“After our primary victory, the campaign had what we saw as a unique and limited opportunity for Alexandria to use her elevated platform to speak about issues affecting our district to the national media, and to campaign for other progressive candidates around the country,” Trent said. “By working to get other progressive candidates elected, Alexandria will be securing more national voting power for the people of Queens and the Bronx.”

Social media posts by those in the meetings, however, did reveal some of the topics discussed, including racism, according to the Chronicle.

“We’ve been polite with racist people for far too long,” Ocasio-Cortez said, according to a tweet by Nick Gulotta, an aide to Mayor de Blasio who was at an event. “There’s a cultural idea that talking about race is divisive … but I don’t think it’s divisive unless you’re a racist.”

Ocasio-Cortez also tweeted about one of the events.

“At yesterday’s town hall, someone asked how I, as just a human, am dealing with the hate, subconscious bias, and criticism. … I’ve been told my whole life I’m not up to snuff. Folks always doubt my worthiness until I get it done,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

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